A Complete Guide To Cloud Computing
The Tool Connecting The Modern Workforce
The cloud has become mainstream for backing up smart phones and connecting to streaming services. Companies have been using cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) tools, like Salesforce and G Suite, for more than two decades. Cloud computing, once considered forward-thinking, has become a necessity in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, remote, hybrid, or flex workspaces are here to stay. So what is cloud computing exactly? How can it help your company succeed? And, with cyber attacks on the rise, is it safe? There are many myths, but take a look how cloud computing can change your business for the better.
Cloud Computing Basics
A company typically stores its tools and applications on-site in a data center on physical storage devices that employees access using their in-office workstations. In contrast, cloud computing means a percentage of those resources like email, client data, research, and software are set up on a remote database and accessed by employees from most locations via the internet. These remote databases are hosted globally on virtual machines, so they exist everywhere and can be configured for public, private, or hybrid options.
Key Benefits of Cloud Computing
The ability to access cloud services has become a game-changer for many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They provide an edge over competitors and help improve overall efficiency. While costs are involved, companies experience key benefits by migrating to cloud computing.
Cost: Companies save money annually on machines, software upgrades, cooling, and manpower to monitor the physical database. Executives can also cut costs by paying only for the cloud services needed.
Productivity: Employees can access work machines anytime, anywhere, instantly increasing productivity. Cloud services also allow for better communication between teams and open up a wider pool of talent regardless of their locale.
Scalability: Physical on-site servers are finite, whereas the growth of virtual machines is not limited by physical space, staffing, or the cost of upgrades to devices and software. Companies can go as big or as small as they want when it comes to flexibility and changing business needs.
Speed: The transition to remote work increased latency for employees, especially with everyone trying to access a finite data center. Instead of connecting through the in-house network, cloud computing upload and download performance are only limited by the employees' internet speed.
Reliability: Cloud services increase business continuity. Having a cloud-hosted backup system ensures the data is available at all times, regardless of weather or natural disasters, human error, or cyber crime. While the business must develop a disaster recovery process on its own, the vendor implements and manages real-time backup.
Security: Cyber attacks are on the rise. Protecting your on-site network requires daily monitoring and security updates pushed to every workspace. With cloud computing, updates are instantaneous and can easily be scaled for the size of your network.
Can cloud services increase your bottom line? A study cited by TechAdvisory.org1 found that of 757 SMBs surveyed, one in five had implemented cloud technologies, while 78% of those were operating above industry standards. Outsourcing cloud services also gives companies yet another advantage: 24/7 access to high-caliber IT support they would not be able to afford in house.
Three Models of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing can be utilized in one of three2 management options. Each has their pros and cons. These models offer cloud-based IT solutions like IT management, unlimited data storage, cyber security, compliance,3 and network monitoring, to name a few.
- Public Cloud Services
- Private Cloud Services
- Hybrid Cloud Services
- Public Cloud Services
One of the most integrated models, SMB's utilize public cloud computing to streamline the IT infrastructure. The hardware, infrastructure, and resources are owned and managed by a third-party provider. Companies can choose from various cloud services, making it somewhat customizable to their needs. The public cloud offers limitless scalability, and it's cheaper than the private or hybrid cloud models.
Private Cloud Services
Private cloud services are for industries that use highly sensitive and regulated data. The cloud is hosted on-site or on a secured virtual machine by the provider. Companies can expect higher performance and productivity. Private cloud services can be customized to fit a single organization's needs; however, these perks and exclusivity come with a high price tag.
Hybrid Cloud Services
Hybrid cloud services give SMBs a combination of private and public. A private cloud stores sensitive data with public cloud-hosted software and other applications. This offers companies flexibility and adaptability to migrate workloads between the two when there are spikes in demand. There is also a pay-as-you-go option for many hybrid services to help with the bottom line.
Cloud Computing as a Service
The latest tools and applications are accessible to any size business with cloud computing. Again, because a third party owns the hardware and software, the cost readily aligns with most budgets. A company will have to decide which type of cloud service works best.
Popular cloud services include:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - IaaS is the starting point for most businesses. It systematizes storage, networking, and virtualization. One of the most recognizable IaaSs is the virtual machine or digital version of a computer or server that hosts the company's resources.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) - Developers are the key demographic for this type of cloud service. Rather than build their own environment or "platform," PaaS is a virtual space for developing and testing company-created custom software or applications.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) - Many people became familiar with SaaS during the pandemic. However, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have been using SaaS solutions for a long time. The opposite of physically installed software, these web-hosted apps and tools can be accessed by employees from any location through an internet connection.
- Serverless Computing - There's a chance your IT team will geek out over this service. Instead of the slowdowns experienced while provisioning storage and data needs, the serverless solutions4 architecture allow developers to execute code.
More Cloud-Hosted Applications at Work
The cloud is more than virtual connectivity, security, and management. Cloud applications work in tandem with as-a-service tools and cloud structure to help business grow and evolve.
- Create and develop applications specific to your needs (especially on a PaaS)
- Store, back up, and recover data more efficiently and securely than anything onsite.
- Deliver software to multiple remote workspaces simultaneously and update security protocols with ease.
- Analyze data for consumer trends, to reduce redundancy, increase organization, and even introduce AI or machine learning abilities into a company's IT solutions.
Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
Even before the pandemic, on-premise data backups were losing popularity. In the event of a disruption on-site, organizations can’t afford to lose access to their backed up data – that’s where the cloud comes in. Leveraging a provider for cloud data storage and backup ensures business continuity: if your network goes down, data is still accessible via the cloud. Likewise, nothing is lost in a catastrophic event, making the cloud an essential part of your disaster recovery strategy.
Unlock The Potential With Xceptional's Cloud Solutions
Cloud computing is fundamentally changing how businesses and consumers connect to devices. Whether public, private, or hybrid, cloud services help streamline communication for the workforce, enhance productivity, and offer advanced cyber security features. Every day, Xceptional is reimagining the cloud to provide the best turnkey collaborative solutions for a client's needs. Schedule a meeting with our experts today to start building a plan for your company. If you don’t feel ready for a meeting yet, and want to understand more about how to leverage cloud for your business, then watch our on-demand webinar. It includes a great step by step guide on how to leverage cloud to securely grow and scale your business.